Will coal exports go through the states or Canada?

Did you know that Canada is investing more than $400 million to upgrade coal exporting capacity at five terminals in British Columbia? If all sites are completed, they will be able to export more than 82 million tons annually. Ridley Terminal located at Prince Rupert plans to double their coal exports. This is critical information, because you may have heard from some of those who oppose coal exports that Canada does not have the bandwidth to export coal. The reality is that they do.

Coal is the number one mineral export of the providence, and British Columbia has been reaping the economic benefits of coal exports for years. In fact, a new report finds that B.C. coal exports totaled $7.1 billion in 2011, and the coal industry supports 26,000 jobs throughout the province, many of which make twice the average annual provincial wage.9 At the same time, B.C. is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally conscious regions in the world and has won many awards in tourism, including Vancouver, B.C.'s award for “The World's Most Livable City” five years in a row.10

What this means for communities in Washington is we have a choice: We can continue to watch these train pass us by, or we can capture the economic benefits of coal exports by supporting projects like the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT).

These new facilities are an opportunity for Washington and the Pacific Northwest to expand its capacity for exports and increase its trade with the rest of the world. This will result in more growth and jobs for the region, and coal exports are making this possible by providing the investment in new capacity for exporting other commodities as well. The Gateway Pacific Terminal can bring our community the same kind of economic and environmental prosperity as British Columbia, creating thousands of local jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenues, while upholding our state's stringent environmental standards.

If you'd more information, please call (206) 268-2253 or email us at [email protected]

Scroll down for more specifics on terminal plans in B.C. and the breakdown of capacity numbers.

Annual British Columbia Coal Export Capacity


Confirmed Capacity Expansion

Potential Capacity Expansion

Total Capacity After Expansion


Westshore Terminal, Tsawwassen

4 million tons


33 million tons1

Ridley Terminal, Prince Rupert

12 million tons

36 million tons2

24-60 million tons1

Neptune Terminal, Vancouver

8.5 million tons


18.5 million tons3

Fraser Surrey Docks, Vancouver

4 million tons

4 million tons

4-8 million tons4*

Pacific Coal Terminal, Port Moody

1 million tons

2.5 million tons**

1-3.5 million tons5


Total Capacity Post-Expansion


80.5-123 million tons

*Fraser Surrey Docks Terminal is a new facility being built to ship U.S. coal transported by rail from Wyoming.6
**Pacific Coast Terminal has historically been a sulfur export facility, but the decline of sulfur exports and strong demand for coal exports has led to a shift in the terminal's product mix.7

These plans are just the beginning. If Ridley Terminal elects to use the 100 acres of additional space on their property, known as “Area A,” they could export up to 60 million tons of coal annually.2 According to George Dorsey, president of Ridley Terminals Inc., “Area A gives us the capacity to double the facility from 24 million tons to 50 million tons and beyond. There's so much space, it's infinitely expandable.”8 In short, there is enough current and potential capacity at B.C. terminals to far exceed GPT's capacity, even at maximum build-out.

Currently, the majority of B.C. coal exports are made up of metallurgical coal used in steelmaking, although high-quality thermal coal from the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Montana and Wyoming is in high demand. If demand for metallurgical coal wanes, available capacity at these terminals will be quickly captured by PRB coal, which will be transported by rail through our community.